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Practicing at Home

by Don Cross

Many of us experience the benefits of practicing yoga two or three times a week. But sometimes our schedules don’t allow us to make it to the studio as often as we would like. One option to consider is adding home practice to supplement your time in the studio. You can have a wonderful session of breathing and mindful movement whenever you want. It doesn’t have to be a full 75-minute session like we do at BodyInUnity. Just 5 to 20 minutes of yoga can feel amazing and turn your whole day around.

You may feel bewildered when you first practice yoga on your own. “What should I do? What comes next?” Although an experienced teacher creates a variety of sophisticated sequences for students, there is an underlying structure to yoga that you can learn and adapt for your own use at home. This is not rigid dogma, just a general idea that you can adapt and experiment with. Just as a young person memorizes the alphabet and later becomes creative with words, you can memorize this structure and feel confident when improvising your own practice.

The structure consists of nine basic parts.  You can write these on a little piece of paper to keep near your mat until you know them by heart.
  1. Warmup
  2. Standing / Flow
  3. Balance
  4. Hips
  5. Backbends
  6. Twists
  7. Forward Bends
  8. Inversions
  9. Rest

Now let’s look at examples of what you can do in each part. Start out simple in your home practice and choose poses you already know and enjoy.

Warmup. While lying down or standing, become quiet and focus on your breathing. Then start with gentle movements. Do not push yourself. Easy does it! (And don’t skip this part.) Include unforced movements of the following types, while lying down or standing (seated postures are not recommended for the warmup):
  • Forward bends
  • Side-bends
  • Backbends
  • Twists

Standing / Flow. If you know a flow you like, do that now. If you don’t, that’s fine. Just pick a couple of the following poses and do them on both sides.
  • Crescent
  • Warrior 2
  • Triangle

Balance. Pick one balance pose and do it on both sides. Focus your eyes on a stationary point to help stabilize your balance.
  • Tree Pose
  • Stork
  • Warrior 3

Hips.  Do one or more of the following:
  • Figure 4
  • Pigeon Pose
  • Cow Face (or Cow Face Prep)

  • Bridge Pose
  • Camel Pose
  • Bow Pose

Don home practice with Jinx

  • Seated Twists
  • Reclining Twists

Forward Bends.
  • Seated Head to Knee
  • Child’s Pose
  • Lying on your back, Knees to Chest

Inversions. Here we are winding down. This is less about effort and more about reversing gravity to quiet the mind and redirect blood flow.
  • Legs up the Wall
  • Scissors (helpful to have a strap at home)
  • Happy Baby
  • Sleeping Tiger

Rest. This is important! Do not skip your final rest, even if it feels like you aren’t “doing” anything. Think of this as the dessert. Feel your breath soften as you sink into your mat. Experience subtle sensations of your body. See how much you can completely let go of effort. Stay here 1 to 10 minutes. When you are done, gradually transition back to sitting and then standing.

You did it! Even if you only practiced the warm-up or just one posture from each of the nine sections, you have treated yourself to a well-rounded yoga experience. Congratulate yourself and enjoy that post-yoga glow!